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Beware the Spin

September 20, 2016 12:00 pm
Beware the Spin

The Charter challenge against medicare is not about improving access to care for patients, but allowing doctors to charge more

Since the inception of medicare in Canada, opinion polls in all parts of the country consistently show that a vast majority of Canadians believe in equal access to health care based on need, not ability to pay.

Yet this is precisely what is at stake in the Charter challenge against medicare taking place in the BC Supreme Court this week.  Dr. Brian Day, one of the founders of the Cambie Surgery Clinic, is contesting restrictions on doctors working in the public health system from also charging ‘extra fees’ that would be paid for privately – out-of-pocket by patients or through private health insurance.

Far from defending the constitutional right to timely care for everyone in Canada, Dr. Day’s Charter case – not the one he talks about in the press, but the one actually being argued in the B.C. Supreme Court – shows no concern for the rights of those who are ineligible for, or cannot afford private health insurance or private care.

It defies belief to dress up a fight that, if won, would undermine the public health care system as heroic. Yet, from the outset of the Cambie Surgery case, Dr. Day has insisted he is defending the constitutional rights of all Canadians to timely health care.

Unfortunately, that is far from the case.

In recent interviews, Dr. Day has decried a public health care monopoly that prevents patients from extricating themselves from the pain and suffering of waiting lists. He’s drawn parallels to unjust laws outlawing same sex marriage, safe injection sites, and assisted suicide.

But what exactly are Dr. Day’s lawyers arguing in court this week?

They’re invoking section 7 of the Canadian Charter – our right to life, liberty and security of person.  They are using section 7 as a basis for striking down B.C.’s ban on private health insurance, extra-billing by physicians and other limits on private care.

In other words, this case is about doctor billing practices and not about Canadians’ Charter rights to improved patient care.

The gap between how the vast majority of Canadians understand the right to health care and Dr. Day’s reading of the Charter is readily apparent.

Dr. Day’s lawyers have been clear they’re not arguing that the section 7 creates a ‘positive’ right for patients to receive a certain quality or timeliness of publicly funded health care.  Far from it.

Just like Dr. Chaoulli in his challenge to Quebec’s ban on private insurance a decade ago, Dr. Day’s lawyers are not arguing the B.C. government is constitutionally obliged to do more to improve the public system in order to safeguard the Charter rights of all patients waiting for care.

No, Dr. Day claims that section 7 makes it unconstitutional for governments to place any limits on private health insurance or private care that might make it harder for those who can afford it to jump the public queue.

stethoscope-1584223_1920 To be clear, a successful outcome for Dr. Day and Cambie Surgery would be Charter protection for billing practices that have been proven to actually undermine the public system.

In Dr. Day’s Charter universe, that ideal of access to health care irrespective of ability to pay is turned on its head.  Instead we face the specter of a right to health care based on wealth.

No one should fall through the cracks in circumstances where their life or security of person is at threat.  This is a right they should have whether or not they can pay for private care.

Dr. Day insists he is fighting for the rights every one of us who might find ourselves languishing on a public waiting list.  But if that were true, he would be asking the courts to order Canadian governments to address inadequacies and inequities within the public system.

Dr. Day would not be calling for the courts to strike down the public system, but to make it better.  This is the Charter right to health care that the vast majority of Canadians want and deserve.

Let’s hope that the courts are listening to us and not to Dr. Day.


martha-jackmanMartha Jackman is a professor of constitutional law and member of the Centre for Health Law Policy & Ethics at the University of Ottawa.  She represented the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues in the Chaoulli case.

Ottawa Set to Celebrate Launch of Capital Style Files

10:19 am
Ottawa Set to Celebrate Launch of Capital Style Files

All photos supplied by Alexandra Gunn.

Ottawa’s style influencers and industry leaders are being shown the spotlight in the latest Bell Fibe, TV1 series highlighting the capital’s most stylish citizens. The brand new fashion series comes to Ottawa this fall showcasing the city’s most exclusive events, including the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala. Viewers get a behind the scenes look at the wardrobes of Ottawa’s biggest trend setters and how they are working to make Ottawa a fashion capital.

The joint venture between Bell Media and producer Katrina Turnbull explores how Ottawa is more than just a political city. Turnbull says that since the inception of the series and throughout the filming it has been “a great opportunity to elevate Ottawa’s fashion scene. Ottawa is known for being a leader in politics, technology, and the environment, but little is known about the city’s fashion industry. This show has given Ottawa style a platform to showcase local designers, boutiques, and the people working to make Ottawa a fashion capital.”

alex-and-katrina-filming-capital-style-files-2Season 1 of Capital Style Files displays an array of guests including Ottawa Life Magazine’s fashion editor, Alexandra Gunn; creative event planner, Tami Varma; and top fashion blogger, Dominique Baker. The diverse set of guests offers an opportunity to redefine the shortsighted view that Ottawa has a limited fashion scene by displaying some of the guest’s significant achievements and their extensive community engagement.

The first 3 guests documented in Capital Style Files will set the tone for the series and outline some of the arenas in which the style-set work and play.

alex-filming-capital-style-files“These guests weren’t shy about letting us into their lives and their closets. We followed them to the city’s most exclusive events to see how they dress on the town. Later, we go right into their wardrobes. They share how they’ve cultivated their style and exactly where they shop for clothes in Ottawa and abroad” says Turnbull.

The buzz surrounding the series is expected to grow with news that Katrina Turnbull and her Bell team are expected to finalize the filming of Season 1 in the coming months.

“We are filming the second half of Season 1 this fall with an exciting lineup of guests and never-before-seen venues featured on show. Viewers will want to tune in for an exclusive look at Ottawa’s style scene” says Turnbull.

alex-and-katrina-filming-capital-style-filesOttawa’s fashion and arts community is gearing up to celebrate the launch of the series. An official launch party and screening of the scenes from Capital Style Files takes place at the CTV studios in the ByWard Market on Monday, September 19th at 7:00PM. Longtime writer and creator of the fashion parenting site, ouicestchic.com and producer of Capital Style Files, Katrina Turnbull will be the host of the evening and has instructed guests to “bring it” when dressing for the event.

Attending the launch party? Be sure to tweet our Fashion Editor, Alexandra Gunn at @OttawaStyle and tell her what you think of her segment.

For more information on Capital Style Files, please visit: www.capitalstylefiles.com

Rain Can’t Dampen Joy

September 18, 2016 10:19 am
Rain Can’t Dampen Joy

All photos by Andre Gagne.

It may be nine hours before Vance Joy is set to walk on the stage to the screams of hundreds of fans but one of them was already there. Sarah Allegra, clutching a homemade sign and bearing a temporary tattoo with Joy’s name, is first in the CityFolk line. Soon the festival gates would open and she’d sprint her way to the front of the stage ensuring a clear view of her idol, full of hope that maybe he’ll see her out there in the dark.

Sarah Allegra was ready early for Vance Joy.

Sarah Allegra was ready early for Vance Joy.

“I feel like his music his really heartfelt and you just feel like you want to give him a hug listening to it,” the student said, her head tilted to one side listening to Joy’s sound check in the distance.

Allegra didn’t realize that later that day she’d actually be able to give Joy that hug but, before then, she had a long, wet wait in front of her. There always seems to be one at least one drenched day at this festival and, despite organizers hopes it would all pass quickly, the rains came early to CityFolk Saturday and only offered minor temporary reprieves to fans like Sarah.



Basia Bulat performs in the downpour.

Fest days like these are one’s where volunteers should be issued an umbrella and kayak with their standard issue t-shirt. The weather kept the afternoon crowds small but, on the plus side, it meant shorter lines for craft beer inside the Aberdeen. Patrons did have to sidestep around some buckets and puddles, however, as the roof sprung a few leaks. Stage staff were quick to toss plastic over instruments and sound equipment both inside and out making the stages resemble some kind of crime scene for shows by The New Pornographers and Basia Bulat. All in all, a perfect for day for some Dan Mangan “Bummer Jams”.

“This is nice, but I’m not getting dumped on by rain. The sun can’t shine every day,” said Mangan, overlooking the first big festival crowd of the day. The singer would eventually step out and be pelted with a few drops himself during his solo, acoustic show that afternoon.



CityFolk volunteers take advantage of empty Kids Zone to get their faces painted.

The rain was oddly enough producing a drought elsewhere on the
grounds. The Kids Zone staff –hoping youngsters eager to see the afternoon performance by Canadian children’s entertainer Fred Penner would have energetically streamed in by now– resorted to painting each other’s faces.

“They’ll come and we’ll be ready,” the now cat-faced man, also known as John Currie, said to his team and they soon did as families packed the Aberdeen for Penner’s show.


Families and kids alike joined Fred Penner in songs and dance.


Fred Penner smiles at a packed Aberdeen Pavilion.

Penner wisely broke out “Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” early in the show that, at least for an hour anyway, became a musical daycare for both kids and parents. Now in his 44th year as a performer, many of those in the audience were raised on his music and are now passing it along to their kids and grandkids. The glum weather could not stop the smiles inside the pavilion.


Julia Jacklin performed for those looking to get out of the rain and into a leaky Aberdeen Pavilion.

All this time Sarah Allegra patiently waited in the day’s downpours, her Vance Joy sign more protected then she was. If the long wait in the rain only yielded a chance to see Joy perform it all would have been worth it. However, a greater reward was given to Allegra when she won a local contest to meet her idol backstage. While she waited in the gathering crowd that afternoon she snapped some photos of herself along with a friend also braving the weather that were noticed by the festival. Soon the unbelieving fan was ushered through the gates, passed security and into the receiving end of that hug she spoke about nearly nine hours earlier.

‘I couldn’t believe I’d actually met him,” said a still beaming Allegra shortly after her encounter with Joy. “He’s really nice and gives good hugs.”

Vance Joy somehow stopped the rain for his Saturday night CityFolk show.

Vance Joy somehow stopped the rain for his Saturday night CityFolk show.

“Do you like walking in the rain?” sang Joy with a witty smile, opening the show with “Mess Is Mine”. Sarah Allegra was surly one of the dampened masses cheering in a crowd that abruptly forgot how wet they were. And then, four songs into the Australian singer’s set, the rain suddenly stopped. It’s hard to know if anybody noticed, though. This crowd probably would have stood there in an ice storm fuelled by the warmth in Joy’s songs. Every time the singer changed instruments, when he smiled, or brushed one of his curly hairs away from his forehead, the crowd cheered. Even the ukulele received an ovation!

cityfolk-day-3-34-of-40w“There’s a good vibe out there tonight,” said Joy as the umbrellas started to come down.

His near 90-minute set consisted of popular tunes like “Riptide” and “Georgia”, tearjerkers like “From Afar” and some nods to Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon with covers of “The Chain” and “You Can Call Me Al”. By the time he played his last tune, “Fire and the Flood”, there had thankfully been more of the former then the latter in a show that could have gone on all night.

Rain or no rain, for fans like Sarah Allegra, that would have been just fine.



  1. Mess Is Mine
  2. Red Eye
  3. Winds of Change
  4. All I Ever Wanted
  5. Play With Fire
  6. Straight Into Your Arms
  7. The Chain (Fleetwood Mac cover)
  8. My Kind of Man
  9. From Afar
  10. Wasted Time
  11. Georgia
  12. Best That I Can
  13. Riptide
  14. You Can Call Me Al / Cheerleader (Paul Simon / OMI cover)
  15. Fire and the Flood

If I Only Had $100…I Would Buy at LCBO Vintages

9:00 am
If I Only Had $100…I Would Buy at LCBO Vintages

I was pretty excited to see the feature at the LCBO Vintages be shining the spotlight on Ontario wines. I am a firm believer that we never have to look further than our own backyard for great vintages.

sept-17-vintages-catalogueWe have wineries in the Niagara Escarpment, Prince Edward County, Lake Huron, Pelee Island and Georgian Bay, just to name a few.  This past summer, my husband I toured around the Twenty Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake regions visiting several wineries and the enticement of uncorking new wines that we could not purchase locally just overcame us. We stocked up!  If you have not had a trip to wine country this summer, here is the opportunity to go wild at Vintages and pick up some gems.

The 2016 grape harvest is underway! Ontario winemakers have finished picking grapes for sparkling wine and are now busily harvesting white wine grapes.  By all reports from wineries, the crops are looking good!  Pick up some Ontario wines to celebrate our beautiful province and let’s toast the winemakers that make it all happen.


13th-street-winery13th Street White Palette 2015
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #207340) 12.5% alcohol 

A fabulous & unique blend of 53% Riesling, 18% Chardonnay, 17% Gewurztraminer, 9% Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of 3% Pinot Gris. The grapes were hand harvested from a variety of vineyards throughout the Niagara Peninsula, with the vast majority from the 13th  Street Estate vineyards. All varieties were fermented separately in stainless steel then blended in the final stage.

Aromas of orchard wildflowers at their peak housed in a soft golden colour. There’s gentle honeysuckle and lemon aromas on the palate with tree fruit; apricots and yellow apples mixed with some buttery almonds on the finish. Delicious and flavourful. My husband and I enjoyed this white wine with some grilled chicken and Caesar salad and it was over the top perfect!

Flat Rock Riesling 2014flat-rock-riesling
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #43281)  11%  alcohol

White blossoms and ripe tree fruit capture the senses.  Slightly off-dry with lots of fruity flavours, ripe peaches and apples. This medium-bodied white wine has a delectable seam of acidity that sends you back for another sip. It’s smooth and elegant.

Lovely on it’s own or with lighter fare of fish tacos, salads or a bowl of steamed mussels.


rapscallion-wine-companySmoke & Gamble
Cabernet/Merlot 2012
VQA Ontario  (Rapscallion Wine Company)
$19.95 (Vintages #332825) 13% alcohol 

Located in Port Dover in the county of Norfolk, this winery is new for me and does not disappoint. On the bottle label it states 44% barrel aged and 56% stainless – meaning that this is a blend of wine that was both aged in barrels and tank resulting in a medium bodied red wine.

There is a subtle whiff of dusty aromas (that is a good thing for a wine that is 4 years old already!) with suggestions of roses and violets coupled with red and blackberries on the palate. There is a subtle sweetness of black plums with freshly ground green and black pepper on the long finish. It is slightly tart with firm tannins but then moved into a fabulously smooth and tantalizing red wine blend.  Would definitely marry a hearty autumn stew or thick-with-meat chili.

westcott-temperance-redWestcott Vineyards Temperance Red 2014
VQA Vinemount Ridge Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #469189) 13.4% alcohol

Bravo to these young retired folks, who bought a 200 year-old timber frame barn, restored it to build a winery around the original structure.  And on top of all that, they planted 26 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Talk about a leap of faith. This relatively new winery located in Jordan, Ontario, is right in the heart of the Twenty Valley region, where the soil is the creme de la creme for growing grapes.

This interesting Cabernet Franc & Pinot Noir red wine blend is loaded with red berries – cherry and raspberry flavours jump from this light bodied pale red nectar. It shows more like a light bodied Pinot Noir with layers of personality. Pair it with pork or roast poultry encrusted with lots of herbs.

pondview-icewinePondview Vidal Icewine 2014
VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #390351) 11% alcohol

It has been a while since I included an icewine in my list.  This one is a great price!

By definition, icewines can only be made from grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine and picked when the thermometer dips to -8°C or lower. While the grape harvest yield is particularly low, (hence the high expense), icewine offers a mouthfeel and sweet deliciousness that is worth every penny. With a under $20 price tag on this icewine, our friends at Pondview are giving it away.

This dessert wine has aromas and flavours of sweet baked yellow apple, pear and marmalade, citrus notes at the end of this long divine finish. Dinner becomes memorable when you end with such panache.

Grand Total – $92.75

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